On the Job: Kariona Colter

SYI Teen Kariona Colter

International Academy of Flint student Kariona Colter is currently working at Sylvester Broome Empowerment Village (SBEV) through Flint & Genesee Education & Talent’s Summer Youth Initiative (SYI) program.

Graduating from TeenQuest in 2019, Colter has worked two jobs with SYI –the first with the North End Soup Kitchen – and is thankful for the opportunity to be part of the program.

“I have friends that ask me how I always get jobs during the summer,” says Colter. “I always say, ‘It was TeenQuest,’ and stress the importance of the program.”

Entering her senior year of high school, Colter plans to pursue a cosmetology license and a degree in business. Her dream is to attend one of the country’s Historic Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), which feels like a calling to her.

“I know that most universities don’t offer courses in cosmetology,” says Colter. “So, I may get my cosmetology degree locally, then go to an HBCU for business.”

In the meantime, Colter hopes to continue working for SBEV while she focuses on graduating high school.

What does a typical day look like for you?

I work with the children who attend programs at SBEV, so I typically come in and get name tags sorted. Then, I help the kids file in and walk them to class. I mentor students during the day, and, at the end, I get them settled in the gym and make sure they’re ready to go home with their parents.

Tell me the path you took to get your position.

A coach that used to work at my school mentioned there was a year-round position at SBEV and saw my application through SYI. I love working with kids, and the organization is close to my home and school, so I thought it would be a good fit.

Where did you get a passion for working with children?

I am the youngest in my family, so working with kids feels like I have younger siblings who I can help teach right from wrong.

What is your favorite memory from TeenQuest?

We would do a lot of group activities, and I would put myself in the position to lead the group. On the day we went to interview, I was with my group and one of the facilitators called on me. I followed him and realized that the group wasn’t with me. I told him I would go back and get them. But this interview was just one-on-one. I didn’t feel prepared, but he told me, “You’re in this by yourself.” And that made me realize that I had to step up and do things on my own.

What advice would you give TeenQuest students?

Make sure you’re focused. When I started TeenQuest, I didn’t think I was going to finish. I felt like I didn’t need it until about the second week. I paid close attention and found out there were things in that program that I needed to hear.

TeenQuest and Summer Youth Initiative are made possible through the generous support of the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation.